Secrets For Creative Containers

from Garden, Deck & Landscape
Try these container gardening combinations for added interest in your backyard. Get ideas on how to use containers and where to put them.

Decorate Tabletops
The broad, flat surface of a table cries out for interest. Give it some with attractive containers. Think beyond ordinary plants in plastic pots, but keep the look basic and casual. Annual ‘Pink Crystals’ rubygrass (Rhynchelytrum nerviglume) makes a striking tabletop arrangement, opposite. Sitting on stone tile bases, the terra-cotta containers create a clean, contemporary feel.

Use small containers, simple plantings. Small to medium patio tables may be overwhelmed by large containers, so lean toward small and simple pots.
Plan for the whole season. For attractiveness even after flowers fade, choose plants that rely on foliage as well as flowers for their good looks.

Soften Hard Edges
Place containers where they’ll disguise harsh edges or angles, either by direct concealment or by creating a focal point that acts as a distraction. On these stairs, a simple potted geranium, in addition to petunias, Lantana, and other plants lining the stairs, takes viewers’ eyes off the sharp edges.

Consider multiple perspectives. Several containers are often needed to cover corners or posts from multiple perspectives.
Don’t get carried away. You may not need an extravagant or overly large display for complete concealment of an unattractive feature — just something nice for a pleasant distraction.

Add Height
Gardeners often overlook vertical space. Use freestanding or hanging containers to give your garden three-dimensional color. Next to to a low border, ‘Ramblin’ Violet’ Wave petunia, strawflower (Bracteantha bracteata), and ‘Cuzco Yellow’ creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) rise to new heights on a freestanding tower.

Think beyond baskets. Hanging baskets are great for eaves, porches, and other overhead structures. But freestanding towers with baskets and trellises that support vines growing in pots also provide height, and you can put them anywhere they’re needed.
Keep plants within reach of a hose. Hanging baskets and other tall containers are difficult to reach with watering cans.

Unify The Landscape
Employ a strategy used indoors, where repetition of color unites the decor. Outdoors, use similar or identical containers throughout an area to pull it together. This is especially effective along a path or a long wall - try using three different containers planted with the same colors such as purple-leaf coleus and creeping Jenny (Lysimachia ‘Goldilocks’).

Think in color. Repetition doesn’t require identical containers (although that works too). Different, but complementary, colors can have the same unifying effect.
Be conspicuous. To function as unifiers, containers must be seen, so put them where they are plainly visible.

Frame Entrances
Doors, gates, and other entrances are natural focal points. Make a great impression by framing them with attractive, colorful containers. Left, Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun’ and ‘Avalanche Red’ petunia team up in gray pots, and ‘Harvest Moon’ begonia and Artemisia ‘Sea Foam’ fill terra-cotta pots. The combination adds visual mass — and impact — at the front door.


Match the plant to the exposure. Many doorways are under eaves or porches, where only shade-loving plants will thrive. On the other hand, a doorway exposed to full sun can be the hottest place in the yard; plant accordingly.
Think big. Tiny containers next to a door are hopelessly dwarfed.
Line stairs. Containers lining steps to an entrance add beauty to an otherwise utilitarian space.

Create Focal Points
Use large or colorful containers as focal points in areas lacking conspicuous features or to fill visual holes such as empty corners. A vegetable garden, for example, gains impact with a pot of Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun’, Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’, and red Callibrachoa set on a pillart.

Don’t hold back. To really be the center of attention, a container needs size, vivid color, or dramatic shape (or all three!).
Give pots a boost. A tall container isn’t necessary if you can place a short one on a structure.
Avoid competition. A bold container can detract from nearby features. Avoid placing dramatic displays where they’ll compete with other focal points.

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